According to the Immigrant Welcome Center, Indianapolis is home to individuals who represent 120 nationalities! The diversity of our city’s makeup impacts our schools, population and economy, and creates opportunities to learn about and help immigrants and refugees in need.
“Many times, refugees and immigrants blend in easily after resettling in America,” said Matt Calvert, grants coordinator for Exodus Refugee Immigration. “They learn English, find jobs, buy cars and homes and send their children to school. They shop at grocery stores and other local businesses and contribute greatly to the economy of this city, and the more support they feel from their neighbors, the faster this process happens. When newcomers are included in the lives of the people in their community, the community gains new perspectives, experiences and knowledge.”
However, not everyone has the ability to settle into life in Indianapolis quickly or easily. Refugees, specifically, are in great need of support.
“An immigrant is an individual who chooses to leave one’s country to settle in another to improve the future prospects of themselves and their families,” said Calvert. “On the other hand, refugees are defined as persons who flee their homelands due to violence, persecution, oppression and other human rights violations. Because of this, the United Nations has legally designated them as refugees in need of protection, and they come to the United States seeking safety as legal residents.”
According to Calvert, refugees often arrive in the city with few resources, and need help learning English, finding child care, securing transportation, adapting to local customs, advancing their education, providing for their basic needs, acquiring medical care, navigating social service systems, locating safe housing and much more.